March 2, 2016 9:22 pm
Updated: March 2, 2016 10:11 pm

‘I keep smelling the flesh’: former marine talks heart-wrenching moment of saving couple from fire

WATCH ABOVE: An ex-marine in North Carolina spoke about the emotional experience of trying to save an elderly couple from a house fire. Both individuals later died from their injuries. Coleen Harry reports.


A former marine in North Carolina spoke about the heart-wrenching last moments of an elderly couple who only cared about the other person being saved before they both passed away from their injuries.

Brian Crotts, 38, who said he served four years in the military, was driving with his wife through Fallston, N.C. on Feb. 28 when something caught their attention up ahead. When they neared a house in the area, they heard an explosion.



That explosion was the result of a driver, identified as 24-year-old Thomas Pruitt, hitting a propane tank and causing a massive blaze at the home of J.B. Newton, 74, and Naomi Newton, 76.

Crotts told WBTV News he saw the husband sitting outside the house with his clothes gone.

Story continues below
Global News

“I tried to pick [J.B.] up. He tried to push me away… he said, ‘my wife.’ I said ‘I’ll get your wife if it kills me.’”

That’s when Crotts said J.B. went limp, so with help from other Good Samaritans, he carried the man away from the house.

Crotts then entered the home to find Naomi.

“When I got to her, she was pinned under some two-by-fours and the wall,” Crotts told WBTV. “I picked it up, struggled [but] got it off her. She was unconscious.”

When the former marine got the 76-year-old outside, he performed CPR on the woman until she gained consciousness.

According to WBTV, the couple were rushed to hospital with serious injuries.

Both later died.

“I can’t sleep,” Crotts confessed, “I see that man sitting up, pointing. That’s all he was doing, left hand out, pointing across that rubble at his wife.”

Crotts also said he can’t get the smell of the scene out of his memory


“I keep smelling the flesh. That’s a smell I’ve never smelled.”

Even though this was an emotional experience for Crotts, he said he wanted the family of J.B. and Naomi Newton to know they died caring for each other, and that he would save the couple again if he needed to.



“I want the family to know that, that lady asked about her husband when she came to, and that man, the only thing he was thinking about was his wife.”

March 3 would have been J.B.’s 75th birthday.

© 2016 Shaw Media

Report an error


Global News